PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) cabinet on Friday decided to enhance the diagnostic testing capacity of infectious coronavirus from 300 to 1,500 per day by next week and subsequently take it to 10,000 with support of private hospitals and laboratories across the province.
Addressing the media, Adviser to Chief Minister on Information Ajmal Wazir said that Chief Minister Mahmood Khan specially directed the concerned departments to increase the testing capacity of coronavirus to 1,500 to 2,000 per day by the next week on emergency basis.
The chief minister further directed that the testing capacity be enhanced to 10,000 with the help of private labs and hospitals. He also directed the officials to take steps on war footing and extend the testing facility in all districts of the province.
He directed the release of additional funds to DHOs and MSOs to enhance the coronavirus testing capacity and health facilities for patients.
The cabinet decided to improve health facilities by allowing purchase of more ventilators and by appointing backup staff in the health department to deal with any emergency in case the virus spreads.
It was informed on the occasion that over 1,200 doctors have already been appointed on contract basis while 2,000 would be appointed through the Public Service Commission. It was further told that paramedic staff and other staff would be inducted on walk-in interview basis and the cabinet also gave approval to policy in this regard.
The cabinet discussed lockdown situation and precautionary measures in the wake of the pandemic and expressed satisfaction on the effective measures as 151 coronavirus patients have been discharged from quarantine centres in Dera Ismail Khan district and being sent to their respective areas.
The cabinet was informed that there was no shortage of wheat or flour in the province and 165,000 tonnes of wheat stock in KP. Wazir maintained that the government was committed to facilitating the masses and bringing reforms in the health sector.
The cabinet decided that supply of 5,000 tons of wheat would continue from Punjab and in case of any shortage more wheat would be procured from local farmers soon after harvesting season and in extreme condition it could be bought from PASCO or to be imported.
The cabinet was told that under the KP government relief package, 243,000 families would be given Rs6,000 assistance for next three months in first phase under provincial relief package and around Rs6,000 per month would be given under the federal government’s relief package.
Minister for Health Taimur Salim Jhagra gave a detailed briefing to the cabinet on the outspread of corona disease and said that till date the number of positive cases were 311 while nine died till April 2, adding that the urban population in Peshawar, Kohat, Mardan, DI Khan and other cities was more vulnerable to be affected by corona disease due to dense population.
On the occasion, the CM underlined the need for more precautionary measures and implementation of government policy in letter and spirit to contain the spread of the virus.
The KP health minister told cabinet that due to effective lockdown no coronavirus case was reported from Chitral and Kohistan.
The cabinet discussed issue of Tablighi Jamaat and the CM issued directives to give special care and assistance to 5,300 members of Tablighi Jamaat in the province, out which 300 are foreigners and 70 per cent belongs to other provinces, Wazir said.
The CM said that members of Tablighi Jamaat were guests and the government had directed the district administrations, health and relief departments to take good care of these people as they were serving the cause of religion.
The provincial cabinet approved exemption in various taxes, Wazir said and added that 2 per cent tax would be charged on sale and purchase of property while construction industry would also be given special concession in taxes.
The cabinet also approved purchase of essential medical equipment such as ventilators, masks and gloves.
Wazir once again reiterated the need for adopting preventive measures especially in urban areas to contain spread of virus.